Where Was Netflix’s ‘Holiday in the Wild’ Filmed? Locations & Photos


Netflix recently released a new Christmas movie, Holiday in the Wild. This is one of the first original Christmas movies the streaming service has scheduled for 2019. Its movies have been widely successful in the past, and this year’s will likely be loved again. While you’re watching this movie, you may be wondering about where it was filmed. We have all the details below, including how you can visit these locations yourself.

The Movie Was Filmed at an Elephant Orphanage Where Extra Care Was Taken To Protect & Care for the Elephants in the Movie

Holiday in the Wild was filmed in South Africa, including at an elephant orphanage in Zambia, Kristin Davis told Parade. In the movie, Davis plays a New Yorker who goes to an African safari for Christmas, where she meets Rob Lowe, who is playing the role of a pilot in the region. Kristin Davis’s son is played by Rob Lowe’s real-life son, John Owen Lowe.

Davis told Parade that the movie is a “love letter to everyone I know in conservation, especially to the people who work with elephants. It’s near and dear to my heart.”

The big elephants that they filmed were in Jabulani, near Kruger. She said “it’s a beautiful game reserve owned by this family…three generations of animal-loving and rescuing people.”

One of the locations filmed was Lilayi Elephant Nursery, which you can learn more about later in this article. Game Rangers International cared for many of the elephants seen in the movie.

The private reserve in Jabulani has a conservation program called the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, Davis told Parade. One of Rob Lowe’s behind-the-scenes photos from the set is tagged as being at Hoedspruit.


Jabulani Safari (see the website here) offers guests a private VIP tour of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC.) It includes a two-hour guided tour to see animals in their care, including King Cheetahs, rhinos, and orphaned elephants. The website notes: “Orphaned elephants that come into our care are hand-reared at HESC with around the clock care provided by our experienced Jabulani carers Joshua, Stavros, Israel, Simba and Herman, assisted by the HESC curators and team of staff. Once we feel the elephants are sufficiently rehabilitated, they are introduced to the Jabulani herd that has a commendable history of accepting orphaned elephants.”

You might also meet African wild dogs, vultures, lions, leopards, southern ground hornbills, blue crans, serval cats, and other animals.

Davis told Parade that the movie wasn’t filmed with show animals, but they worked with rescued wild elephants. It was tough to find a good filming location, she said, because they needed to make sure the elephants were trained correctly. She said she loves where they ultimately filmed because Zambia’s elephant orphanage released them into the wild and is a lot like her orphanage in Kenya.


On the first day of filming, she said the crew had to stay in land cruisers and whisper, because that was all the elephants were used to (based on visiting tourists and what they did.)

She said the herd in the film has its own identity and the biggest elephant is the leader of the herd: “which is unusual, because usually the male elephants go off.  But this herd is different. It’s been through a lot.”


She told Parade that if people want an experience similar to what’s shown in the movie, they should go to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi on the edge of the Nairobi National Park.

Here are some more behind-the-scenes photos that were shared on Instagram.


Jabulani offers a number of experiences for visitors. Some of these include elephant experiences, like elephant interactions, an elephant swim, and more. Jabulani guests can observe elephants’ mid-day swim. The site notes: “Our rangers are notified of their location and guests are brought quietly to observe from a comfortable distance how the herd playfully frolics in the water. This outing presents one of the best opportunities in South Africa to photograph elephants swimming and soak up the special moments.”


These next photos were tagged as being taken at Drakensburg Mountain.




Drakensburg Mountain is in South Africa. You can see some reviews and comments on Trip Advisor.

Some parts of the movie were also shot at the Zandspruit Bush & Aero Estate, as you can see in the Instagram post below. The post reads: “We are really proud that parts of the new @netflix movie Holiday in the Wild where shot at #zandspruitestate, the game reserve where our villas are located ☺️ During the recordings the entire film crew (@iamkristindavis, @roblowe and many more) stayed in our villas! ?”

This is also located in Hoedspruit. It “offers 200 stands to people who wish to relocate or retire to paradise, or simply invest in a second home or holiday home,” the website explains. “Surrounded by the majestic Klein Drakensberg Mountains, the various stands offer a range of views that include a combination of bush, mountain and river views… There are no big 5 on the farm, making it a safe environment for you and your family to enjoy an early morning walk, cycle or horse ride and to enjoy the magnificent sunsets from the comfort of your home or pool deck. An added benefit at Zandspruit is the fabulous weather that is experienced all year round which affords you the opportunity to enjoy outdoor living at any time of the year.”

Some scenes were also filmed at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, this Instagram post shares.


The post reads:

GRI was incredibly excited to host Hollywood celebrities @roblowe and his son @johnnylowe at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery as they filmed scenes for the @netflix movie ‘Holiday in the Wild’. ⁣

Rob and John were actively engaged in the process of caring for the elephants, and learnt how to prepare the specialised milk formula that provides the nutritional key to the orphans’ recovery from point of rescue. ⁣

Having spent time in Africa, Rob is only too aware of the tragedies of wildlife crimes taking place, and understood the critical role of law enforcement efforts in protecting target species such as elephants from extinction. ⁣

One African elephant dies every 20 minutes! The law enforcement Rangers who patrol wild spaces are literally life savers for these vulnerable elephants, and they need your support. Join the Rangers in their fight against wildlife crimes! ⁣

Donate today at gamerangersinternational.org”

You can visit the Lilayi Elephant Nursery too. This webpage explains how. It reads, in part: “As an in-house guest of Lilayi Lodge you have the unique opportunity to go Behind The Scenes BTS and get a first hand look at the project as well as contribute to the conservation efforts by assisting the elephant keepers in caring for these baby Elephants. The charge for this unique experience goes 100% towards the project and wildlife conservation in Zambia.”

View this post on Instagram

Mkaliva takes centre stage in the upcoming Netflix film ‘Holiday in the Wild’!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ As this exciting Netflix conservation-themed film follows the story of an orphaned elephant’s rescue, it was essential to focus on one of the orphans at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery as the muse. There were three healthy orphans being cared for by GRI at the time of filming, and Mkaliva was selected as the most calm and well settled. Due to our strict elephant management protocols and minimal impact policies, and in alignment with Netflix’s high animal welfare standards, it became apparent that a ‘body double’ would be required for the majority of filming, and Netflix invested hugely in ensuring that the puppets required were the spitting image of the real-life Mkaliva!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ During the few scenes filmed of the orphans we were extremely impressed by how respectful and sensitive the entire Netflix crew were towards the elephants. They followed our every instruction to ensure that the calves were the priority at all times and, in addition to our own focused behaviour study, there were governing officers in animal welfare present throughout filming to ensure that the elephants were unaffected by the process.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ We’ll be featuring exclusive insights into "The Making of ‘Holiday in the Wild’” across our social media platforms from the 1st November, and will reveal the extensive efforts implemented to ensure elephant welfare was at the very forefront of this ethically-made film, with thanks to @iamkristindavis and @netflix. Watch this space!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Mkaliva was rescued by GRI and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in August 2017. Her story closely aligns with that portrayed in the film, as both elephants experienced the same physical and emotional traumas when losing their mothers and herd. Learn more about the real-life Mkaliva at gamerangersinternational.org⁣⁣ ⁣ ?⁣ @andrewsilentwildlife ⁣⁣ #GRI #GameRangersInternational #WeAreAllRangers #Zambia #DNPA #HolidayintheWild #GRIWildlifeRescue #SaveElephants #ElephantOrphanage #BeKindtoElephants #AnimalWelfare #WildlifeConservation #Elephants⁣⁣

A post shared by Game Rangers International (@game_rangers_international) on Oct 17, 2019 at 3:13pm PDT

Here are more posts from people involved in the movie. Game Rangers International cared for some elephants in this movie.

​As you can see, many of the locations in Holiday in the Wild can be visited in person, if you want to relive the experience yourself. 

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